West Lake Terrace becomes the Magic Kingdom for a day

Life enrichment team creates an engaging Disney-themed day for residents

You know you have a great job when you can engage your personal interests and hobbies at work.

That’s just what West Lake Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard discovered recently when she and the life enrichment team at the Prince Edward County long-term care home organized a Disney-themed day for residents.

Janie, who describes herself as “a huge Disney fan,” got to share her love of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Buzz Lightyear and other Disney characters on Sept. 29 with residents and other staff members.

Janie and life enrichment aide Elaine Goheen came in early that day to decorate the dining room with Disney-themed decorations, movie posters and balloons.

Many staff members came to work dressed in Disney-themed costumes, and residents were given Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears to wear.

All the residents got into the spirit of the day, Janie says.

“Every single one of them walked around with the ears on all day,” she tells The OMNIway. “The staff were fantastic, too. The residents love seeing the staff dress up.”

Residents enjoyed a pizza lunch that was inspired by the Pizza Planet scene from Toy Story 3. There were also lots of conversations about Disney movies that “brought back lots of memories” for residents, Janie notes.

“They were talking about how they remembered taking their kids to the drive-in and seeing movies like The Fox and the Hound, or the first time they saw a Disney movie, so it was a good day,” Janie says.

In the afternoon, Janie set up a projector and screen to give residents a virtual tour of the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Florida, a landmark she has visited many times.

Janie gave residents a presentation on Disney World and shared some little-known information about the famed international resort – like, for instance, how Walt Disney in the mid-1960s secretly bought the property where Disney World would eventually be built.

“The residents really enjoyed that,” Janie says.

As a result of Janie’s presentation, residents are now keen to take other virtual tours, so the life enrichment team is looking at other opportunities.

“Some residents wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and the pyramids of Egypt, so this has spawned ideas for different activities that residents would like to do, so I think we’re going to do some world travelling soon,” Janie says.

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National Day for Truth and Reconciliation events well received by West Lake residents

Staff provided presentations and traditional First Nations food to everyone Sept. 30 in honour of the day

West Lake Terrace residents are expressing their gratitude to the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s staff members for hosting events in recognition of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours the people of Canada’s First Nations who survived the residential school system. The day also serves as a reminder of the children who did not return home from residential schools.

As part of the day, West Lake Terrace residents were introduced to contemporary and traditional First Nations food and attended information sessions focused on First Nations traditions and culture.

Residents enjoyed a lunch that featured three sisters soup, which contains squash, corn and beans, as well as fried tacos and sweetened bannock with berries for dessert.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard and life enrichment aide Elaine Goheen delivered a presentation to residents about First Nations cultural traditions that included videos of dancing and powwows.

The video presentation also featured an interview with a residential school survivor.

Residents say they enjoyed the food and the presentations.

Resident Doris Woodall says she was “thankful to be able to taste and experience some traditional Indigenous food.”

Another resident, Shirley Ball, thanked Janie and Elaine for their presentation, noting “it was a good learning experience for me.”

In fact, the day brought back some fond memories for Shirley, whose husband was of Mohawk ancestry, Janie notes.

“She said they used to do smudging in their house and that it was great to think about those times she spent with her husband,” Janie says.

Smudging is a rite practised by many First Nations communities. During a smudging ceremony, smoke from burning sacred plants, such as cedar, sage, sweetgrass and tobacco, is used for purification.

The day was also informative for West Lake Terrace staff members, Janie notes.

“They were very supportive; they thought it was a great idea that we involved the residents in honouring this day,” she says.

Before changing the name to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30 was called Orange Shirt Day.

The colour orange has significance. In 1973, Phyllis Webstad, a then-six-year-old First Nations student from B.C., had an orange shirt taken from her by teachers at the residential school she attended.

Orange Shirt Day was first acknowledged on Sept. 30, 2013, to raise awareness of the injustices First Nations, Inuit and Métis people faced in residential schools.

Orange has been designated as the colour of remembrance of the children who didn’t return home from residential schools.

Residents and staff members were encouraged to wear orange shirts in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Nearly all staff members wore orange shirts, Janie says.

“Staff members across all shifts participated and wore their orange shirts and were very supportive of the day,” Janie says.

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West Lake commemorating National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with events and presentations

‘This is going to be a good learning day for everybody’

In honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, West Lake Terrace is dedicating today to both celebrating the contributions First Nations communities make to Canada as well as raising awareness of the issues Indigenous Peoples face in this country.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard and administrator Darlene Copegog-Hamilton came up with the idea to raise awareness of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s residents and staff members.

For lunch, residents will be served a mix of contemporary and traditional First Nations food including three sisters soup, which contains squash, corn and beans, as well as fried tacos and sweetened bannock with berries for dessert.

The home’s display case is featuring photos highlighting aspects of First Nations culture such as hoop dancing and powwows. Also in the display case are a traditional medicine pouch and a pair of moccasins owned by RAI co-ordinator Amy Harper from when she was a baby as well as a pair that belonged to her daughter.

Given that there are First Nations residents and staff members at West Lake Terrace, the day also celebrates diversity at the home, Janie says.

Before changing the name to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Sept. 30 was called Orange Shirt Day.

The colour orange has significance. In 1973, Phyllis Webstad, a then-six-year-old First Nations student from B.C., had an orange shirt taken from her by teachers at the residential school she attended.

Orange Shirt Day was first acknowledged on Sept. 30, 2013, to raise awareness of the injustices First Nations, Inuit and Métis people faced in residential schools.

Orange has been designated as the colour of remembrance of the children who didn’t return home from residential schools.

Canada’s former residential school system has been a major issue this year after more than 1,300 graves were found near the sites of former residential schools in Western Canada this summer.

While this discovery sent shockwaves across the country, it also highlighted in bold print the mistreatment the people of Canada’s First Nations faced during the era of the residential school system.

“It’s really important to include the residents and to raise awareness about some of the issues (affecting the First Nations people) in our community and in our country,” Janie tells The OMNIway.

“With the recent discovery of the graves in the residential school system, we thought it was important to bring this to light and to give the residents some opportunity to talk about it and to learn from it.”

To show solidarity with the people of Canada’s First Nations, West Lake Terrace residents and staff members are being encouraged to wear orange shirts today.

The West Lake Terrace team has also hoisted an Every Child Matters flag outside the home.

In the afternoon, Darlene is going to deliver a presentation to residents focused on the First Nations of Canada. Janie is going to show residents YouTube videos highlighting First Nations culture and explain some of the many traditions celebrated by Indigenous Peoples.

“This is going to be a good learning day for everybody,” Janie says.

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West Lake Terrace staff has been by our side throughout the pandemic: family member

‘Things worked out very well because the staff were really helpful,’ says Wilf Durham

The husband of a West Lake Terrace resident is commending the home – and OMNI Health Care – for acting quickly to keep residents safe when the COVID-19 pandemic began and for providing important supports to residents and their families during the past 18 months.

Before the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020, Wilf Durham was visiting his wife, Marjorie, nearly every day at West Lake Terrace. When the pandemic began, “everything changed,” Wilf recalls.

After the pandemic was declared, long-term care homes across Ontario were immediately closed to non-essential visitors to keep everyone safe from the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

While these protocols were necessary, residents and their loved ones were naturally missing each other. What made a difference, Wilf says, is the support the home provided residents and their families.

Wilf says the West Lake Terrace team went above and beyond to help facilitate video calls for residents and their family members, and that had a positive impact on everyone.

Wilf began communicating with Marjorie as often as he could through FaceTime, which, he says, “really helped.”

He adds that staff members helped Marjorie get comfortable with using the video conferencing platform, and their support made a difference.

“Things worked out very well because the staff were really helpful,” he says.

Wilf is also commending OMNI Health Care for the support the organization has shown West Lake Terrace during the pandemic. He says the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, Janie Denard, has been quick to relay any information related to the pandemic to families.

“OMNI are doing a really good job,” he says. “They are getting all of this information through to Janie and she prints it out regularly and keeps (everyone) informed.”

Wilf is now an essential caregiver for Marjorie. Wilf visits Marjorie each morning and they are both benefiting from their time spent together, he says.

“It has been really good,” Wilf says. “We feel that we are having valuable time together.”

This is Part 2 of a two-part story. Click here to read Part 1.

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Family member says he’s found the best possible care for his wife at West Lake Terrace

I’m really pleased with the staff and with everything that’s going on there,’ says Wilf Durham

Wilf Durham says since his wife Marjorie has been living at West Lake Terrace, the staff at the Prince Edward County long-term care home has accommodated her needs and provided her with top-level care.

A doting husband to his wife of 64 years, Wilf naturally wanted the best care possible for Marjorie when she reached a stage in her life when she required long-term care. And Wilf says quality care is what Marjorie receives at West Lake Terrace.

In a recent interview with The OMNIway, Wilf shared the story of his life with Marjorie.

The couple, originally from England, met in Marjorie’s hometown of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, where Wilf, who hails from Sheffield, had gone to work for the de Havilland Aircraft Company after completing his university studies.

A close lifelong bond the couple has shared is a love of sports. When they met, Wilf was an avid footballer, while Marjorie had passions for tennis and cycling. They both loved golf and curling as well.

“Our life outside of work was spent in sports,” Wilf says.

The couple married in the summer of 1957.

Wilf would go on to work as a teacher in Welwyn Garden City, and in 1968 he accepted a teaching position at a high school in Toronto. Wilf, Marjorie and their daughter moved to Canada that year.

Wilf’s teaching career would eventually take the family to Marathon, Ont., where he became vice-principal and head of the mathematics department at the town’s high school.

The couple would move to Picton, Ont. in 1993, and then to nearby Wellington in 2002.

Since Marjorie has been living at West Lake Terrace, Wilf says the home’s staff members have always been there for both of them.

For example, when Marjorie first moved into the home she was living in a shared room, but Wilf, who is Marjorie’s power of attorney, thought she’d be happier in a single-bed room.

“So I applied for that and she got it, and from then on in she really improved,” Wilf says.

Wilf adds that Marjorie’s love of sports remains strong, and West Lake Terrace staff members will make sure she gets to watch any sporting events she enjoys on TV.

Marjorie has also enjoyed the activities West Lake Terrace offers, with bingo being one of her favourites, Wilf says.

“I’m really pleased with the staff and with everything that’s going on there,” he says.

This is Part 1 of a two-part story.

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West Lake Terrace honours therapy dog Gibson at a memorial service

Gibson, who recently passed away, served as a much-loved volunteer at the home for five years

West Lake Terrace residents and staff members said goodbye to a valued four-legged volunteer who spent five years bringing love and happiness to everyone at the Prince Edward County long-term care home.

A memorial service was held at the home Aug. 11 to honour Gibson, a pug owned by volunteer Lesley Campbell. Gibson passed away recently and the loss has deeply affected residents and staff members, says life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard.

“It was a very emotional day for the residents and staff as we said our goodbye to Gibson,” she tells The OMNIway.

Gibson, a St. John Ambulance therapy dog, began his pet-therapy journey at West Lake Terrace in 2016. In addition to West Lake Terrace, Gibson and Lesley volunteered at three retirement homes in the area as well as at Hospice Prince Edward, Pathways to Independence and Community Living Prince Edward.

“Gibson touched so many people during his time with us, and Lesley did so much for our home we can’t begin to express our sincere appreciation to her,” Janie says.

“A resident commented to me (after the service), ‘we lost a very special member of our family. No one could ever replace our Gibby.’ ”

Indeed, Gibson’s volunteering services were valued at West Lake Terrace. During special occasions and holidays, Gibson would show up at the home in costumes, such as the Easter bunny or as a pumpkin at Halloween.

After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, volunteers were not able to visit West Lake Terrace due to safety restrictions in place. However, Gibson and Lesley still made regular window visits to say hello to the residents and staff members they were missing.

Janie says the memorial service was emotional. At the same time, everyone felt grateful to have had five years of visits from Gibson, she adds.

“Lots of tears were shed, but we also feel very blessed to have had Gibson become a part of our West Lake Terrace family, and (we) witnessed the true unconditional love Gibson had for our residents,” Janie says.

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On Fridays, West Lake Terrace turns into a cinema

Friday afternoon matinees have become a favourite program for residents during the pandemic

On Friday afternoons, West Lake Terrace takes on the atmosphere of a cinema, complete with a movie playing for residents and the aroma of freshly popped popcorn wafting through the halls.

The idea for the Prince Edward County long-term care home to start offering Friday movie matinees came from the residents, who were yearning to watch more of their favourite films.

The home bought an authentic movie theatre popcorn machine, which makes the experience even better for residents, says Janie Denard, West Lake Terrace’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

When Fridays come around, life enrichment staff members ask a resident to choose a movie from the home’s collection of videos. A different resident is asked to select a film each week to ensure variety.

“It’s always a different movie and the residents get to decide what they watch,” Janie tells The OMNIway.

With safety protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, large-group programming has been on hold at West Lake Terrace and other long-term care homes, so activities like the Friday movie matinees have helped meet residents’ programming needs, Janie says.

As well as offering different movies on Fridays, staff members provide different refreshments to go with residents’ popcorn, such as milkshakes or Shirley Temples.

This program has made Fridays a favourite day at the home, Janie says.

“They absolutely love it; they look forward to watching their movies,” she says.

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Fun theme days have helped carry West Lake Terrace through the pandemic

‘Everyone looks forward to them, and we always know they are going to be out of our norm for the day’

It’s amazing what a daylong, fun-themed program can do to keep morale high during a trying time.

Once a month, the West Lake Terrace team organizes a special day of fun centred on a theme, and residents and staff members alike cannot wait for the next one, says Janie Denard, the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Janie and nutritional care manager Diane King have been collaborating to create these special days each month to help residents and staff members have some fun and take their minds off the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July, the theme was a Hawaiian luau day, complete with a Hawaiian-themed lunch of barbecued pineapple-chicken kebabs with a Hawaiian macaroni salad and coconut cream pie for dessert.

In the afternoon, everyone watched the 1961 film Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis Presley.

A favourite themed day was a 1950s diner event in February. Residents and staff enjoyed burgers, hot dogs, fries and onion rings served in baskets lined with checkered paper.

A highlight of that day was resident Elwood Lewis donning a black leather jacket and sunglasses to play the part of Fonzie from Happy Days perfectly, right down to giving the thumbs-up, and his “aaayyy!” was spot-on, Janie said at the time.

Janie says these monthly themed events have become such a bit hit with residents and staff members that everyone at West Lake Terrace waits on the edge of their seats for the next one to come around.

“Everyone looks forward to them, and we always know they are going to be out of our norm for the day – and it’s all hands on deck.”

Janie notes that there is a group of personal support workers who have taken it upon themselves to be the costume managers as soon as a theme day has been chosen.

“They go on to Amazon and order the outfits and help organize the events – they get just as excited about it as the residents, which works really well because it boosts the morale in the home for everyone,” she says.

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West Lake Terrace is commending local community members for continued support during the pandemic

West Lake Terrace is commending local volunteers and church groups for helping keep residents’ morale high and continuing to provide their support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Janie Denard, the life enrichment co-ordinator at the Prince Edward County long-term care home, says even though they haven’t been able to be inside West Lake Terrace with residents, these individuals and groups have been a “huge support” in helping keep residents happy since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Jane Foster, who ran a Bible study group at West Lake Terrace on Mondays, has also stayed in touch with some of the residents throughout the pandemic, Janie notes. Jane purchased a DVD set of the Bible so residents could facilitate a scripture study group on their own at the home.

Janie also says Rev. Fran Langlois and the parishioners of St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Picton have been supportive throughout the pandemic by keeping in contact with the home and making sure online church services are available for residents who wish to have access.

The Bethany Christian Reformed Church has been another huge supporter during the pandemic, Janie says.

On Canada Day, church members dropped off individual hand creams for residents that were accompanied by cards. At Easter, they delivered care packages for all the residents.

Ruth Dwight, who was hosting a drumming circle program at West Lake Terrace and nearby Kentwood Park before the pandemic began, has also maintained a connection to the home, Janie says.

As part of the program Ruth leads at long-term care homes across Prince Edward County, residents experiment with a variety of percussion instruments, from hand-held drums to bongos.

Since she cannot be inside the home, Ruth has made DVDs of her drum instruction classes for residents to follow.

“We have been really, really fortunate to have those community connections,” Janie tells The OMNIway.

“They have been doing the best that they can to keep us in the loop.”

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It’s too early to go shopping, but vaccinations bring hope to West Lake residents

Almost all of West Lake’s residents received the Moderna vaccine on Feb. 22

Shortly after receiving the Moderna vaccine on Feb. 22, a West Lake Terrace resident approached life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard with a question.

“Janie, does this mean you can take me shopping?” the resident asked.

Although the world is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s too early for shopping trips and other excursions for the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s residents, Janie says she took the resident’s question as a sign of hopefulness.

Representatives from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health were at West Lake Terrace on Monday to administer the Moderna vaccine to 33 residents.

All of the residents who received the vaccine had provided the necessary consent to be immunized. Only one resident requested not to be vaccinated.

There is still a way to go before life returns to normal, and even with residents and staff members vaccinated against the highly contagious COVID-19 virus, strict safety protocols will remain in place for some time.

Still, residents and staff members at West Lake Terrace are “excited” that the vaccine has arrived, as immunizations are a major step forward to ending the pandemic.

“We are excited; we are hopeful that (the vaccinations) are going to bring some more normalcy back to the residents’ lives in the near future and we can return to life as normal,” Janie says.

“They’re desperate to get out shopping and see the world outside of West Lake, so that has been a topic among residents, and I think the residents are a little more hopeful that we’re going to start to turn a corner here soon with the pandemic, and we’re hoping for better days ahead in the summer.”

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